Oprah’s ‘humiliating’ questions to Dolly Parton in old interview spark backlash

Back in 2003, Dolly Parton sat down with chat show legend Oprah Winfrey for a heart to heart interview about her life and career.

She spoke about her plastic surgery, mental health and an upcoming album during the chat, which went down a storm with viewers.

But almost two decades later the interview has gone viral on social media, with many new fans accusing Oprah of being mean and trying to humiliate the music legend, and some of the questions have been fiercely criticised.

But many Twitter users stepped in to defend Oprah, 67, with swirling debate proving how differently 2021 audiences respond to older interviews and how sensitivities may have changed.

A TikTok of the interview, which took place shortly after Dolly, 75, released her tribute album Just Because I’m a Woman, garnered more than 2.5million views.

The video then gained more traction after it was posted on Twitter at the end of last month.

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Dolly Parton appeared unfazed by the questions about work she’d had done

Oprah’s probing questions were accused of being an attempt to “humiliate” Dolly

Dolly was on Oprah’s show to talk about the album and some of the artists who were featured on it, including Shania Twain, who was also present for the interview, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Dolly herself.

During the chat, Oprah asked: “How are you defying age, Dolly? Whatcha doing?”

Dolly replied: “Oh I don’t know, I’m a cartoon so I just look the same all the time!”

Glancing into the camera, Oprah persisted: “But you’ve been open about that you’ve had some work done. Some tucks and pulls and sucks?”

Dolly laughed: “Yes I have, and I’ll have some more when I need ’em!”

She continued: “I have a funny thing I was telling the girls, all the girls that are singing on the tribute album, a lot of them are very young.

“I was already into plastic surgery when they were still sleeping on plastic sheets!”

Oprah faced a fiery backlash, but many people defended her, claiming the Dolly Parton questions were being taken in bad faith and without context


Getty Images for Global Citizen)

The user who uploaded the video wrote in the caption: “I feel like Oprah wanted her to be embarrassed but ms dolly said ‘nope'”.

One viewer replied: “Oprah looked so salty when she couldn’t get her to react how she wanted.. Lmaoo.”

“The sad part is as I look back on a lot of interviews by Oprah, she was asking backhanded questions with the intention of humiliating her guests,” wrote another.

A third added: “Oprah seemed annoyed that she took the plastic surgery question so well.”

Another user posted a later part of the interview when Oprah asked Dolly about her depression, accusing her of “dragging” Dolly’s mental health into the discussion.

“I’m kind of like a show dog, you know I just have to keep myself up if I’m gonna be at it,” Dolly laughed.

Dolly Parton confirmed she’d had surgery and said she would consider more when she “needed” it

Oprah was accused of trying to catch Dolly out

Oprah replied: “I heard that you look at your boobs as show dogs, or show horses, right?

“And you say you have to keep them groomed?”

Dolly replied: “Well, I do. I call these my weapons of mass distraction!”

She continued: “But anyways, truly, I just do whatever I need to do. And I wear a lot of makeup, and I wear a lot of wigs.”

Shania then remarked that Dolly was in fact not wearing a lot of make up and was “just beautiful”.

The conversation then got a little deeper.

“When you went into your 40s I heard you went into a huge depression, did you?” asked Oprah.

Dolly cheerily quipped back: “That wasn’t just because I was 40, that’s because I was fat and 40!

Dolly Parton has always been happy to talk about her plastic surgery


Redferns via Getty Images)

Do you think the question was fair? Have your say in the comment section below.

“I really had a lot of problems during that time, a lot of female problems, and hormones,” she went on.

“It was a depression thing I went through, just through changing around.

“But I am okay now, and it was one of the best thing that ever happened to me, because I really took inventory, I’d never slowed up, I’d been working since I was ten years old.”

“Because you were po’, too!” said Oprah.

“I was po’ and poor!” laughed Dolly.

Other viewers brought up Oprah’s 2012 interview with Toni Braxton, who later said the host was “so frickin mean” and had “reprimanded” her for spending money on designer clothes.

But plenty of Twitter users defended Oprah, who is one of the most influential and wealthy women in the world having built a successful media empire and championed philanthropic causes.

“Dolly is amazing. Oprah is too. They looked like they were having fun up there, chatting like women and opening up about issues that affect other women. You sir, are a negative person with no class,” wrote one.

“Oprah wasn’t pulling some type of move here. She was asking questions based on stuff Dolly herself had said. Oprah’s huge platform discussing mental health & cosmetic surgery without having it seen as taboo topics was groundbreaking. Her questions had zero judgment,” added another.

A third asked: “Have you all never seen interviews before?

“Oprah knew to ask about these personal questions because Dolly wrote about them and talked about them. Oprah is the reason people are so open now about mental health. You all have no perspective.”

Oprah has not yet publicly responded to any of the backlash she is currently facing – though she has disabled the comments on her social media posts.

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